Rouhani’s ‘Mixed Messages’ On Internet & Social Media

A British-Iranian housewife was sentenced to 20 years in jail this weekend for posting comments on Facebook  while on a visit to Shiraz. Roya Saberi Nejad Nobakht, who formerly resided in Stockport, England, was even tortured in prison prior to her sentencing, The Times reported. She was said to be “devastated.” We would be, too.

Can we blame Nobakht’s plight on hardliners aiming to circumvent Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s attempts to introduce reforms and freedoms? Possibly. But are things really that simple? Already in March, an analysis by Raha Zahedpour on X Index suggested the president, who was elected on a moderate ticket, was sending “mixed messages” on cultural freedoms and censorship. Yes, said Zahedpour, Iran’s House of Cinema was reopened and a major publishing house got its license back. But ultimately, even under Rouhani’s new order, the “principles” of the Islamic Republic still override civic rights; state censorship has simply been thrust from the hands of the government into the hands of the artists, who have been ordered in no uncertain terms to police their own art.

Roya Saberi Nejad Nobakht

This week, an analysis by Tom Risen on US News suggested Rouhani’s “digital revolution” was “dubious,” as his idea of internet freedom, censorship and access to social networks was a “far cry” from that of the West. Yes, he may have called the internet an “opportunity” and a “right” in a recent speech, but in practice, said Risen, he hasn’t eased Iran’s “cultural repression.” Only recently we heard of more restrictions regarding Instagram and Facebook.

Risen quoted Robert Charles, a former assistant US secretary of state, as saying Rouhani hoped that by using “the social milieu the West treats as normal,” the West would pay “less attention” to Iran’s nuclear activities and human rights abuses.

Which prompts us to ask, in which other areas do Iran’s ideas not match those of the West?

Blogging & updating on #Iran related news- focusing on Politics, Human Rights & the Iranian nuclear Program. Followed by top Middle East Analysts, Reportes & think tanks.

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Posted in Hassan Rouhani, Human Rights, Iranian Internal Issues, Iranian Nuclear Crisis
3 comments on “Rouhani’s ‘Mixed Messages’ On Internet & Social Media
  1. […] is, incidentally, still banned in Iran – to disparage the West, among other noble pursuits. Like President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, Khamenei has taken to amplifying his social media presence in a […]

  2. […] and propaganda on behalf of the regime and Iran’s Islamic Revolution. Its current leaders, content to ignore the hypocrisy inherent in using banned platforms to further their political agendas (particularly with audiences […]

  3. […] debate,” invariably backed by the Iranian government, are in line with Iranian leaders’ more nuanced, calculated engagement with the West on social media. According to Harris, Iran believes that by trying various tactics […]

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